This will make a lot of people on the right feel conflicted, but France made a point of inviting Cuban dissidents to its Bastille Day celebration in Havana yesterday. The Cuban government officials who were also invited showed up to return their invitations:
Instead, an unprecedented number of dissidents turned up. Most, smiling broadly, said it was the first time they had been invited to the event.
If the situation was politicized, "it was due to the government, not to us," said Vladimiro Roca, a member of the defunct group Concilio Cubano who was released from four years and 10 months in prison in May 2002.
"The majority of my colleagues and myself are going to attend this celebration not with an attitude of defiance toward the government but defending our essential right to accept any invitation we receive on civilized terms," said Elizardo Sanchez, leader of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.
Rene Gomez, head of a small independent lawyers association, noted that Cuban embassies abroad commonly invite opposition party members to their receptions. "If they can do it, why can't foreign embassies accredited here in Havana?"
Among those who attended was Oswaldo Paya, who was awarded the European Parliament's top human rights award in December for organizing a national petition advocating non-violent change.
In other news on Cuba, an independent human rights organization "the Human Rights and National Reconciliation Committee counted 336 prisoners held for 'political or sociopolitical motives' as of June."
Of those, at least 88 were considered ''prisoners of conscience'' by Amnesty International and ''there are 50 more that are possible'' in that category, said the panel president Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz.
Akaky Bashmackin, one of my conservative readers and a librarian is also peeved with the American Library Association as he posted in the comments section of this post. He also wonders why the right hasn't picked up on this issue, and, my snarky response aside, I think he has a good point. If my name was Glenn Reynolds, I might accuse the right of being "objectively pro-Castro." Fortunately I don't see the world in such simple terms.